Saturday, November 22, 2014
When Mr. Obama decided to do something about a large body of Americans who are living in oppression day in day out, he told us in advance why he made the decision. He said, early this week, that he loved being President, because it was a place where you could do great good every day. So Thursday night he gave his fine presentation to America, making it clear that he wasn't doing what he can't do--no magic citizenship certification for example--but that he was doing what he could, as President.
The response from the Right was tragically predictable. Go watch Steve Schmidt on the MSNBC post speech coverage. At least spit isn't flecking the camera lens. That is, he presents something that remains in the world of language and actual thought. But what's very strange is all the "go slows." Schmidt even admits Obama is exactly right on the substance. It is morally wrong (Schmidt used the term "moral", though he meant it with a certain derision) to just go on and on and on in this morass about millions of Hispanic people--people who live here, work here, go to school here, drive here, get sick here, pay taxes here, and social security (even when they can't collect), people who are parents of children and young adults who are fully American citizens and yet live in fear of deportation, and young adults who arrived as toddlers and went to school here and now have lives, hopes, plans--who all of them are Americans except for the damn paperwork.
The fainting couch fraud that is the Republican response is just amazing. And 50 years after Nina Simone, it's also ignorant and laughable and dishonest. Schmidt and many others have said, "well, now the bill will never pass." As though Mr. Obama was at fault. Even the phony aghast has a racist stain attached: the implication is that Mr. Obama is being "uppity" to do anything, when what he should do is just do what everyone's been doing, and for twenty years. Waiting. Go slow.
We are drifting in this country into the land of dreams and fantasies. What Mr. Obama told us the other night was simple. The house is on fire. If you (Congress) won't act, then I (the President) must. There are millions of real lives at stake, not just some endless kabuki dance played out over and over again, for yet another Congressional session and yet another Presidential election, on and on, while real people that are trying to live fruitful, constructive lives are left forever on tenderhooks.
The Republican response--the response which is part and parcel of the response they started out with the moment Mr. Obama was elected in 2008--is the response of a petulant, spoiled, privileged baby. And that's because it reflects the white privilege that the Republicans live in, a cocoon of wealth and phony moral authority that keeps them all from seeing anything real. Even a man like Steve Schmidt, who now lives and works in a fairly realistic part of the world at MSNBC, and actually is personal friends with the likes of Ms Maddow (who remarked in amazement after his tirade that it was shockingly real--his face was red, his forehead sweating, Schmidt was really upset, that part was no kabuki).
I have heard all this before. Long ago. People used to say, during the Civil Rights struggles of the early sixties, "well, yes, we agree with you, but we have to go slow, be careful, wait." And the response now is just as it was then. We cannot waste another generation. It is an existential question. The house is burning down.
As with our wretched war in Iraq, apparently half of America--the Republican half--has learned absolutely nothing, nothing at all. It wasn't that hard. Just listen to Nina Simone. She could see the truth. It's right there. But have you noticed that advertising frequently uses the image of a person missing a leg or other appendage while selling whatever it is? Now it's just part of the scenery, that mechanical prosthesis. I'll bet if you went back to 1999 you'd never find such an image. You'd have to go back to, say, "The Men," circa 1947. There is water at the bottom of the ocean. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.